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Month: January 2020

A dog’s life (and a cat’s)

A dog’s life (and a cat’s)

30-Enero-2020 Viernes, Cozumel.

The great folks at the Humane Society of Cozumel have done a wonderful job in their seemingly endless effort to reduce the stray population. Nine years ago they euthanized 7000 dogs in 3 years – 36 months.

Since then Humane Society of Cozumel has been conducting spay/neuter clinics. They have even gone out into the neighborhoods and to talk to owners and take the dogs to the shelter for surgery and then take them home afterwards.

One of their massive and free spay/neuter events is happening this weekend. We volunteered to help for a day. Massive was truly the correct adjective. The line was out the door before we arrived at 7:15AM. Show time started at 8AM. This years goal is 1,000 dogs and cats in 4 days. Volunteer doctors and vet techs came in from all around Yucatan and the United States to join the local volunteers, mostly expats.

No one was picking up dog poop after their dogs. One of the campaign leaders gave a forceful speech on the importance of cleaning up after their pets. It helped.

Dale worked transit, carrying anesthetized dogs and cats from the prep area, to surgery and then to recovery. Cats and little dogs are no-brainer to move around. One family came in with 4 German Sheppard and another big dog. Most people had little dogs and several at that.

Pets were color coded, knocked out and weighed at entry to prep rooms. Male pets were labeled with a blue color, female green and special handling (e.g. aggressive, nervous, other health issues…) bright pink. There were about ~8 prepping stations once the trachea tube had been placed by one of the vets. Cats had priority over dog.

The below pictures were take early in the morning with a cell phone. By 10AM it was beyond busy. The day kept getting more and more amazing.

The cat prep area. Cats didn’t get trachea tubes.

I worked in dog recovery. We cleaned the suture area to ensure it stopped bleeding and remove all traces of blood, cleaned ears, trimmed toe nails, removed the trachea tubes and as time permitted removed ticks. I was amazed at how small the spay/neuter cuts were. Microsurgery. At one time we had more than 60 dogs in the recovery area with a staffing ~15 people. Crazy busy!

Almost all of the dogs were family pets and in reasonable condition. A couple of times transit brought in dogs that were really gross. I pretended I was too busy to accept another dog for recovery. LOL.

Dog recovery was lucky enough to be outside under a covered patio with a breeze. The cat room has closed windows and a closed door (no screen). As soon a cat started to come around they were IMMEDIATELY stuffed into their cat kennel or a pillow case.

As the pets started to stir the family team reunited pets with their families. The families sat with their pets until they were alert enough to leave. A multilingual support team managed this process, reassuring the pet owners and providing care and maintenance guidance.

The TNR (trap neutered release) round-up truck broke down last week and hasn’t yet been fixed. I can’t imagine how much more busy we would have been if the round-up had happened! I’m sure tick removal would have been tremendous.

Buenas noches

Estoy cansado (I’m tired.)

I thought we were in a National Geographic Special

I thought we were in a National Geographic Special

30-Enero-2020 Jueves, Cozumel.

It rained sooo much last night we could have snorkeled in the parking lot… but we wanted to go diving. So we did. I took coffee along for the ride to the marina… one tope (speed bump) later the coffee was all over me. Bad idea.

We have been doing something call ‘Discover Scuba’ which allows a non certified diver to dive with a dive master. We’ve dove four reefs. Each unique, Las Palmas reef, Palancar Gardens, Columbia reef and one I can’t remember the name of. Spectacular coral formations and endless diversity of fish. We could have been in a National Geographic Special.

Marina Fonatur – That’s Eric on the dock carrying the air tanks to the boat.
This eagle ray was a real beauty.
Spotted eagle rays grow to a maximum length of 16.4 feet, including the tail, and 507 pounds. Their wingspan reaches a maximum width of 9.8 feet from tip to tip. Spotted eagle rays can be found from the surface to just over 196 feet deep. After a gestation period of about a year, the female gives birth to as many as four pups that are miniature versions of their parents. Rays mature in 4 to 6 years and live around 25 years. The eagle ray is considered as a “Near Threatened” species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

At the end of today’s dive our wonder dive master Eric asked how we liked the dive. We succumbed to our wild side are going to get certified. We hope to complete the class before we leave Cozumel.

It’s a a touch over a 3 mile walk back to the house. We stopped at our favorite place, Sunsets, for lunch and a cold beverage. The mint in the most delicious mojito I have ever had comes directly from the mint plant in the brown planter to the left of my drink.
HA. I’m hoping the mint is too high for the local dogs to hit 🙁
There are so many cruise ships in the harbor today that there is not room for all of them to dock. This one has been hoovering, not anchored, all day. The yellow/blue ferry adjacent to it has been shuttling passengers back and fourth to shore. Cruise ships generally draw about 30-35 feet of water. Hope it’s not sitting on the coral.

Hechos no tan divertidos (not so fun facts)

DAN Annual Diving Report 2018 Edition: A Report on 2016 Diving Fatalities, Injuries, and Incidents

A total of 169 divers died worldwide in 2016

Per diving fatality data published in Diving Medicine for Scuba Divers (2015)
– 90% died with their weight belt on.
– 86% were alone when they died (either diving solo or separated from their buddy).
– 50% did not inflate their buoyancy compensator.
– 25% first got into difficulty on the surface
– 50% died on the surface.
– 10% were under training when they died.
– 10% had been advised that they were medically unfit to dive.
– 5% were cave diving.
– 1% of rescuers died.

I wouldn’t even think of getting certified if I wasn’t confident in our instructor. Eric has dove over 3,000 times. He laughing said that he has spent more of his life under water than out of it.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

The Italian restaurant we ate in last night had ‘spaghetti al donkey’ on the menu. Buttered spaghetti. Burro is the Italian work for butter. Burro got translated to donkey on the menu!
Google ‘spaghetti al donkey’ and check out the recipes.

A dog’s life

A dog’s life

29-Enero-2020 Miércoles, Cozumel.

Yesterday I ranted about how LOUD it is here in San Miguel de Cozumel. Silly me I completely forgot to mention the taxis. We are marked people as tourists. Every empty taxi passing by gives a toot to see if we want a ride. Every taxi driver along the street with an empty taxi calls us to see if we want a ride. Some of the drivers are starting to recognize us so the harassment is starting to diminish. Still, there are over 750 taxis on this small island.

It’s a dogs life

Dogs live giant kennels called a patios. Most of them are extremely neurotic. A lot of them never get let out to roam or walk on a leash. They poop and pee in their patio kennels. No wonder they are neurotic.

Standard of living differences

Siesta time for street dogs

The sign is pretty futile. Street dogs can’t read.

The dogs really start barking 6PM until about midnight, or MUCH later.  I guess it isn’t a significant amount more as they’ve been barking all day. It’s amazing dogs still have any vocal cords left.

At least there aren’t chicken running around here like in the Bahamas.

Along the Way

Historically in Mexico, tampons are a sensitive subject. Although most Mexican women argue that this makes them look bad, most women are either scared of them or have not heard about them. The internet is starting to change all that. Even with my American ways I was a little surprised to see the advertisement on this car.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Damiana, a wild shrub that grows in Mexico, was historically, homeopathicly used to increase sexual desire. Viagra au natural?

A Mexican Inventor Created the World’s First Birth Control.
Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cardenas, a 25-year-old Mexican chemist came up with the chemical compound. He performed the first synthesis of norethisterone, which would go on to make up the main component of the first birth control pills in 1951.

Jack Hammer lives next door

Jack Hammer lives next door

28-Enero-2020 Martes, Cozumel. One thing I can say about about the city of San Miguel de Cozumel is that it is LOUD.

For starters, Jack Hammer lives next door. And he likes to play his music LOUD.

Jack Hammer also works across the street.  He starts at sunrise and works into the night Monday through Saturday. Siestas occur at irregular intervals through the day, but still there is the music. Some days there are more workers than on other days.

I understand from my cousin Mark, the condo has been in progress for a very long time.

It’s easy to understand why buildings will still in progress 10 years from now even though the workers are here from 8AM till about 5PM. First, it’s often hotter than sin itself late morning through mid-day when they are working. Secondly, there is no incentive to complete the job. When the job is over the laborers are out of work. And third, it’s all pretty much done by hand tools. Manually carrying 5 gallon buckets of sand, cement and plaster is slow back breaking work.
Once in a while work (i.e. noise) continues waaaaaaaaaay into the night.

Cutting tile takes forever. Some days they luckily have an electronic saw.
This guy is an artisan constantly using a level to keep the pattern aligned. He has been working on this for 3 days.

The walls of the building are all made of cinder block and need to be chiseled to run electrical lines for lights and fuses. Water and sewer too. Once wired the walls are plastered up and painted.

There is a cement mixer today. Usually I see the workers hand mixing 5 gallon pails of
cement then carrying them to where they are needed.
The utility hole was finally filled with cement after 3 weeks of it being wide open. The gates went on yesterday.

Beyond Jack Hammer there are the flocks of grackles, constantly barking dogs, thrumming scooters and cars, local vendors and merchants calling out, music all round from many many sources playing at full volume and then there are the propane trucks.

Fuel delivery coming off the ferry.

Oh, yes. I forgot about the large bottle of purified water vendors. Tap water in Mexico is not drinkable. Purified water guys, if lucky enough to have a truck, drive around playing a staccato of several honks that is often followed by the call Aaaaagggguaaa! (waaaaateerrrr). Other smaller vendors pedal around on push cart tricycles or drive tuk tuks and also call out.

Home delivery

Along the way

We went back to La Cocina de Silvia for desayuno (breakfast) again today. With 5 cruise ships in the harbor today the horses were busy. This horse came around twice while we were sitting there. (Catch the flying fish on the mural)

Late afternoon walk

Wood working shop. Spraying paint.
Buying ear plugs. Two sets one for Dale and one for me.

Buenas noches

Hard Rock pequeña There are two Hard Rock Cafes in San Miguel de Cozumel. The little one is in the downtown area and the larger one is where the cruise liners dock.
109 year old Torre del Reloj (clock tower) en Parque Benito Juarez

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

US citizens Are the Largest Immigration Group in Mexico.

Mexican citizens make up the largest proportion of the United States’ foreign-born population. But the US citizens, on the other hand, constitute the largest immigrant group in Mexico. According to the last Census in 2010, over 750,000 US citizens live in Mexico.

Yes, it means there are more Americans immigrating to Mexico than Mexicans immigrating to the US. Kind of ironic…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Carnaval

It’s beginning to look a lot like Carnaval

27-Enero-2020 Lunes, Cozumel

Out for 7:30AM desayuno (breakfast)

Sopes and mint lemon lemonade.
Breakfast at La Cocina de Silvia is the best meal we’ve had Cozumel so far. And we’ve had some good ones. Everything is made from scratch. Including all sauces, breads and juices.
Sopes are kinda like a tostada, but better.

I will never be able to eat Mexican food in los Estados Unidos again. It just doesn’t taste as good as it does down here.

It must be a real mess when one of the dogs decides they have to go to the bathroom. Do the other dogs just stand around and watch or are they tugging on the leashes to go elsewhere? How do you pick up the poop? Or don’t you?

Readying for Carnaval Season. I didn’t notice any pintura húmeda (wet paint) signs anywhere.

Trimming trees
The City of San Miguel Public Works solo tiene uno lawn mower(cortacésped). It’s an ancient manual push cortacésped. Avenida Rafael E. Melgar along the shore is the only parkway in city that is mowed.

Dale made me take the car pictures.

I preferred the newly put up Carnaval decorations.

It’s 9AM and we are resting our fat cells in the square before we walk home.
This is the highest point on Isle Cozumel. Elevation 73 feet. We’ve dubbed it Mt. San Miguel.

Trash Day

We put our trash out before took our evening walk. The garbage truck will noisily come by in the middle of the night to collect. I imaging that is the only time they can collect as the streets are too busy during the day and it’s cooler.

Barrels and chains

Evening Stroll

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

WOWZAAA!! 39 cruise ships are registered to dock for this last week of January 2020 (Monday 7, Tuesday 5, Wednesday 6, Thursday 8, Friday 6, Saturday 5, Sunday 2). An estimated 117,000 people will visit Cozumel this week via the cruise ships leaving an estimated US $19.9 million dollars behind in the local economy.

Not your average Sunday night in the park

Not your average Sunday night in the park

26-Enero-2020 Domingo, Cozumel

Pasion Island departing from Puerto de Abrigo.

The sail boat ride was pretty nice but Passion Island was a bust. The water was cold and too murky to do any snorkeling from weather earlier in the week.

Not your average Sunday night in the park

PreCarnaval introduction of the candidates. Anticipation is building. Carnaval is 19 al 26 de febrero (February 19 to 26 )

There were multiple drum groups engaged in a full scale battle of the bands.

The show begins!

Presenting the Master of Ceremonies

Introduction of the last years royalty

Presentation of Candidates (I didn’t get all of them). They all come out, do a little dance and give a little speech.

Royalty candidates group picture

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Mexico has 68 languages that are officially recognized, but there are even more spoken by smaller communities around the country.
Spanish is the national language of Mexico and the most spoken language in Mexico. In fact, Mexico is the most populated Spanish-speaking country in the world.

Un dia lento

Un dia lento

25-Enero-2020 Sábado Cozumel. Un dia lento (A slow day)

So much for the new Teva sandals. Dale’s only had them for a couple of months. It’s a bit challenging to return them from here.

Buying pegamento (glue) to fix the sandal. It is nice to be within walking distance to your local ferretería la plaleria (hardware store).

Ice fishing scoop??? Wonder where they use this.

Dia de lavado (Laundry Day)

Buenas noches

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

If you think my Spanish is good… HA! I’ve been using the Google English to Spanish translator.

Dale and I are trying to try to learn one Spanish word a day. Cerveza and tequila don’t count because we already knew those words.  Dale’s word for today is caliente and Mary’s word for today is canasta. So, between the two of us we can now say canasta caliente or in English ‘hot basket.

I should have paid closer attention 40+ years ago in my high school Spanish classes.  Sorry Señor Landwehr. (Gee I hope I remember your name correctly. I probably should have paid closer attention to that too).

We should have brought the kids

We should have brought the kids

24-Enero-2020 Viernes Cozumel. We bought day passes to an all inclusive beach.

Welcome to Paradise Beach. We got here about 10AM. It was pretty quiet.

Breakfast was first on our agenda

Snorkeling at Paradise Beach was a bust. It a huge grassy area with no structure for animals. A few species of starfish here and there. Fish around the occasional cement mooring blocks and a very rare rock.

There was a huge, I bet over 500, school of fish. This picture might not look like much but the fish are all about one foot in length.
Crazy busy with people by the afternoon.

We were kicked out at 4:30PM when Paradise Beach closed so we went to Sunsets Restaurant to watch the sunset.

We were kicked out of 2 places in one day. A personal best for me.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Mexicans sure ain’t lazy. It’s quite the contrary. They work the longest average hours in the world. An average citizen of Mexico works 2,246 hours a year, or 43.2 hours a week. Many Mexicans work up to 48-50 hours on average per week. Other countries that make to the top five in this category include Costa Rica, South Korea, Greece, and Chile. Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Mexicans working in the U.S. send $2 billion every month to their families in Mexico. This is a whopping amount as it nearly amounts to 3% of the country’s economy.

I can certainly attested to the diligence of the local people. Many of the local stores open early and are open late into the evening, staffed with the same people six days a week.

Playa at Playa

Playa at Playa

23-Enero-2020 Jueves Cozumel.

We are off to Playa del Carmen

We are off to Playa de Carmen. It’s just right there through the walk way.

Ferry terminal

Leaving Cozumel. Love being on a boat!

You can see both cruise line marinas in this picture. The more touristy one is in the far background, just behind the sterns of the ships. We were there 16-Jan-2020 (see blog). This cruise line terminal is a is in the real downtown area.

Coming into Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, a.k.a the Woodbury of Mexico. If you want to shop you’ll find it on Calle Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue). It has everything brand name stores, high end boutique, convenience stores and department stores on the south end to smaller tourist stores and markets as you wander north. (Dale bought shorts at Old Navy. We won’t need to find Walmart now.)

The pedestrian walkway is over three miles long. There are so many stores on this street you have to wonder how they all survive. Every store has almost the same thing every other store has.

There are about a dozen leather stores in the above picture. Let’s say you wanted to buy a tooled leather rifle holster. First of all, did you really want one? How do you get that back to the US? You can’t really roll it up and tuck it in you suitcase. Can you carry it on the plane?
Before the last hurricane the cell phone tower in the background looked like a palm tree. Zoom in and you can still see some of the palms.

Couldn’t help myself with the next two pictures …

Humming bird – Sure I paid too much but I didn’t care.

Tequila store – A lot a lot of high end tequila is not sold outside of Mexico. I don’t like tequila but was talked into tasting coffee tequila. I hated it. Dale liked it. $42 US per bottle.

and just around the corner….

The market goes on and on

We needed to stop for refreshments and lunch. The restaurant we stopped at is actually in the picture above on the right behind the greenery.

Molcajete Azteca and guacamole. I think it’s supposed to be enough for a family of four but we ate the whole thing.

Return trip along al playa.

Sand bagging

On to the ferry for return to Cozumel.
LOL we fell asleep on the ferry and they had to wake us up to get off on the other side.

Meanwhile back in Cozumel

The problem with 2-4-1


Es total no mas. I’m done with Bugs. My camera hand still twitches though when one drives by. I’m probably done with boats too, at least for a while.

Buenas noches

Equal opperunity.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Playa del Carmen. The ancient Maya used the beaches of Xaman Ha, Playa’s Mayan name meaning “waters of the north” as a resting point to prepare their massive canoes for the 30 mile trek to the Island of Cozumel.

Cozumel was first settled by the Mayans in the 1st millennium AD. At that time it was sacred to Ix Chel, the Moon Goddess, aged jaguar goddess of midwifery and medicine.  Because moon’s association with fertility and procreation, temples built here were a place of pilgrimage, especially by women desiring fertility.

¡Ay, caramba! A perdiddle slug bug and a wagon train!

¡Ay, caramba! A perdiddle slug bug and a wagon train!

22-Enero-2020 Miércoles, Cozumel. First mission of the day was to once again hit the cash machine. 6th time in a row ….. the cash machine is empty.

Time to check out a section of town we have not yet walked.

Woo Woo! We found a cash machine with money (and an exorbitant service fee). The cash machine glass fish bowl must have been about 105 degrees inside at 10AM.
Watching the passenger ferries. There is a cruise ship in the right horizon that can’t come into the harbor because the wind is over 25 miles per hour. It’s too dangerous. The ferries are running and it looks like one rough ride. Yes Dear wouldn’t be out in these waves.
This Aztec dancer is taking a photo of the tourists for them …… I’d have wanted him in the picture!

Panteón San Miguel A beautiful old cemetery.

Bugs Today’s count: 8 Total Count: 51

This one turned the other direction and almost got away!
This one almost got way. It turned and ran in the other direction.
¡Aycaramba! A perdiddle slug bug and a wagon train!

Almost Bugs


All we need is a trailer and to loose the bag of cement
A Bayliner!


Mis nuevos amigos (My new friends)

Evening walk

We needed to buy some salsa. It was a bit of a challenge to find it as there was no Mexican section. The Del Monte salsa comes in juice boxes.

Buenas noches

This little niña is fast asleep. With the El Norte weather pattern her mother almost has her dressed for Minnesota weather. It is 75 degrees out.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Yucatan was named after a misunderstanding.
The name of the Peninsula resulted from confusion between the Mayans and Spanish conquistadors. According to a local legend, one of the explorers asked a local about the name of the peninsula. The local replied: “Ma’anaatik ka t’ann, which means ‘I don’t understand you’”, but the Spaniards thought he replied with the name of the place.